Hoeven: Senate Confirms US Air Force Secretary

Senator Met with Wilson, Stressed Importance of UAS Arctic and Training Missions at GFAFB, Upgrades to Nuclear Triad for Minot

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate has confirmed Heather Wilson to serve as secretary of the U.S. Air Force. Hoeven met with Wilson to enlist her support for and outline the importance of North Dakota’s Air Force missions. The senator highlighted the importance of modernizing the nuclear triad and updating the helicopters used to secure the missile fields at Minot Air Force Base, growing the Global Hawk and unmanned aerial system (UAS) operations at Grand Forks Air Force Base and the North Dakota Air Guard’s Intelligence Targeting mission.

“Secretary Wilson has the right experience and will provide strong leadership for our Air Force,” said Hoeven. “We look forward to working with her to support our Airmen and women and their vital defense missions in North Dakota.” 

Grand Forks Air Force Base

            During his meeting with Wilson, Hoeven highlighted the one-of-a-kind capabilities being developed at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and Grand Sky Technology Park. The senator urged the Air Force to: 

  • Use the training academies at Grand Sky, adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base, to train UAS pilots for the Global Hawk as well as the MQ-9 Reaper. Hoeven played a key role in bringing Northrop Grumman and General Atomics to Grand Sky to establish these training facilities.
  • Support Arctic missions at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Hoeven highlighted the growing missions at Grand Forks Air Force Base and encouraged use of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which is based in Grand Forks, to conduct missions in the Arctic region.

Minot Air Force Base

Hoeven also outlined to Wilson the importance of maintaining and modernizing the nuclear triad. Hoeven worked to support this in the recently passed funding legislation, including:

  • $732 million for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs), including $113 million for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program to replace the aging Minuteman III ICBM.
  • Replacing the Huey helicopters used to secure the missile fields. Hoeven has been working to secure funding and authorization to replace the fleet of UH-1N helicopters. The FY 2017 funding bill included $93 million to replace the fleet of UH-1N helicopters.
  • Upgrading the B-52 bombers and the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) program to replace the Air Launched Cruise Missile.

Air National Guard Missions in Fargo

Hoeven also stressed the importance of the missions being performed by the Air National Guard in Fargo, including the National Guard intelligence targeting mission. Hoeven worked to include $7.3 million for a new secure facility to support the North Dakota Air National Guard’s Intelligence Targeting Mission at Hector Field.